Dealing with stress
Stress is not...
...the same as anxiety. Stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, but it’s closely linked to mental health. Stress can cause mental health problems, and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress, you might develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.
How do I recognise it?
- Emotional: overwhelmed, irritable, anxious, fearful, lacking in self esteem
- Mental: racing thoughts, constant worry, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions
- Physical: headaches, muscle pain, dizziness, sleep problems, feeling tired all the time, eating too much or too little
- Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, obsessive thinking
- Behavioral: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious, drinking, smoking or eating more, being snappy or introverted
What can I do?
Talk to them. People worry about saying the wrong thing but it’s better to talk to the person than to avoid it. It’s better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all!
Regular check ins with you and the individual.
Encourage strong peer and social support.
Peer support - get them to buddy-up with a colleague who’s experienced the same thing or is understanding and supportive.
Signpost them to appropriate help such as occupational health.
“Stress is everywhere, so you can’t do anything about it.” You can plan your life so that stress does not overwhelm you. Effective planning involves setting priorities and working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties. When stress is mismanaged, it’s difficult to prioritize. All your problems seem to be equal and stress seems to be everywhere.
“Stress is the same for everybody.” Stress is different for each of us. What is stressful for one person may or may not be stressful for another; each of us responds to stress in an entirely different way.
“Stress is always bad for you.” Exposure to a moderate level of stress that you can master, can actually make you stronger and better able to manage stress. Stress can also give us the energy to finish a task such as a work project. However, too much stress can be damaging. The issue, really, is how to manage it. Managed stress makes us productive and happy; mismanaged stress can cause physical and psychological strain.